Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Travel Photo of UNESCO World Heritage Site: Sefa Utaki

This photo gives viewers a sense of the size of the rock formations at the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Sefa Utaki.

The travelers are standing on what could be called Okinawa's most sacred ground.

From the position they are at, they can see Kudaka Jima, a small island off the east coast of Okinawa, where locals believe life originated.

This will be my submission to LadyE's TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY. 

If you enjoy seeing travel photos from around the world, as much as I do, stop by Budget Travelers Sandbox and give all the travel photographers a boost with your Thumbs and Tweets.
That's what I plan on doing next !


Wednesday Photo: A Symbol of Peace at UNESCO Sefa Utaki

Today I visited the the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Sefa Utaki in Okinawa, Japan.  It was one of the best photography days I've had in a long time and I'll probably keep every image that came out of my camera.  This photo is of a couple, Hiroshi and Natsumi who were visiting from Tokyo.  They smiled and gave the peace symbol not knowing how that drives foreign cameramen, like me, nuts.  But, they were friendly and complimented my photography so, I emailed them a file of this picture large enough to print.

Probably for the past five years, whether it was a weekday or a weekend, every time I have visited this site it has been impossible to catch the island in the background under clear skies. 

Barely visible, in the center of this photo, is Kudaka Jima.  That is the island Okinawans believe their ancestors came from. 

Catching it in this light was a dream come true for me and made it one of the best Wednesdays in my life.

Once I captured my fill of photos and headed back down the trail I smiled at everybody flipping peace symbols at cameras.

Hiroshi and Natsumi thanks for posing and I hope you enjoyed your stay.  Visit Okinawa again, sometime and I'll pose and let you snap a picture of me flipping the peace symbol wherever you'd like !


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 Flower Photos From Okinawa, Japan

These are just 5 of the flowers I have come to know in Okinawa, Japan over the few years I have been running this blog and travelling around the island taking photos.

The title to each photo is a link to one of the posts concerning the flower.

There are more flowers, ferns and trees to be found in FESTIVALS OF OKINAWA and SIGHTS OF OKINAWA.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chasing Butterflies at a Festival in Japan: A Photo Essay

On a hillside at a festival in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan last Wednesday this butterfly distracted me.  I'm easily distracted, I guess.  Wildlife photography, to me, is way more interesting than festival photography.
Give me a choice between shooting butterflies or a gaggle of photographers congregating around some sacred site to snap shots of a village elder performing an ancient ritual and the butterflies win everytime. 

It aint like I was getting paid to do this photo shoot.  So, I skipped the rituals part !

Not that I'm sacrilegious, or anything like that, I had photos of the same priestess, whatever they call her, from last year's Unjami Matsuri.  I figure, if I do a magazine article on the festival, the gal probably won't be too offended if she comes out looking a year younger. This butterfly was driving me nuts.

It was the big white spots on the outside of the wings that I hadn't seen on any butterfly like this before.

This character didn't like Auto Focus.  I had to go fully Manual and focus on the hibiscus flower.
Remember me saying something about packing everything because the lens you need will be the one you left at home ?
Well, my 500mm lens was in my backpack, in a car, about 2 miles away.  Dammit.
The Pentax 18-250mm would get the job done.  I wanted to know the name of this butterfly.
So, I captured as many shots of it as I could using Burst Mode on my camera.
This black, white and red butterfly with big white spots on the sides of its wings was a new one to me.
New to me, so I thought.  Until I researched it in THE JAPANESE BUTTERFLY GALLERY and discovered it's a Red Helen (Papilio helenus).
 As long as I was all set up and focused on that hibiscus I figured I might as well keep shooting whatever butterflies landed there.

Along came this character which I knew was some sort of Swallowtail.
Well, facrynoutloud, I had shot photos of the Red Helen before but this was the first time I ran across a Common Mormon (Papilio polytes).

So, I guess chasing butterflies instead of shooting some ritual at a festival in Japan wasn't such a sacrilegious thing to do after all !

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Aug 28, 2011: Our Project

It certainly feels better sitting through traffic jams under the midday sun in Okinawa, Japan when the construction crews put up silly signs like this: "Thank you for your cooperation and understanding to our project".  By golly, it makes me feel like passing out candy canes to each and every one of them !

For more Sunday's Silly Signs VISIT THE DOOZIES


Leaving this Cave in Okinawa had to Feel Great: A Photo Essay

To appreciate what it must feel like being bombed into the Stone Age it's probably best to show you this cave from the inside, looking out.  Welcome to a cave called Shimuku Gama in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan.
Over a thousand residents of Yomitan Village took shelter in this cave during the battle of Okinawa 1945.
With no flashlights or electricity this is the only daylight visible from inside Shimuku Gama.  It's dark.
The only nice thing about this natural bombshelter is the watersupply; it runs right through the front door.
Outside, to the left of the main entrance, this area could be considered the patio; it's covered, sort of.
A little bit to the right of the monument in this photo is the path that you would take to enter the cave.
The monument recognizes two men, I think we should call heroes, Heiji and his nephew Heizo Higa.

The occupying forces of the Japanese Imperial Army had instructed the civilians who took shelter in the cave to kill themselves rather than be captured when American forces arrived at the cave.

When the Americans arrived at the entrance to Shimuku Gama, the Okinawan residents were perpared to take their own lives. 

They had been told they would be tortured, mutilated and raped by the American beasts and belived it.

Heiji and Heizo convinced them otherwise.  They had both lived and worked with Americans in Hawaii and knew that US soldiers would not harm unarmed civilians. Not one civilian from this cave died.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case in many other caves during World War II.

Leaving this cave in Okinawa had to feel great.






Friday, August 26, 2011

Tree Lovers: Ever Run Across a Lantern Tree ? (Photos)

Here's a photo of a humongous tree I discovered in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan.

To make research easy I took a shot of the sign that told me the scientific name.
Hernandia nymphaeaefolia Kubitzki would take me a long time to write. So, I didn't.

I figured I'd get a photo of the leaves.

Snapped a picture of the sign showing the leaves and the whole story about this tree.
 Then, I stepped back to give an idea of how big the tree is in comparison to the sign.

Here's a view, closer up, of a branch, more leaves and some flowers.

There are some rough-looking spots on the bark of this tree, too.

These leaves are the last shot I took so, that's what I'm leaving you with for photos.

The little lady read the Japanese on the sign and got all freaked out.

That's because I didn't tell her I took these photos in what you might call a cemetery.  Hah!

What does she think I'm doing when I go out with my camera, chasing women?

It seems like years ago they used these Lantern Trees for some kind of funeral purposes.

But, they have also been used for medicine, making shoes, fishing poles, furniture, canoe building,  necklace making, and firewood.

The poor trees are even listed as a Threatened Species.

If you ever run across a lantern tree be careful.

There might be ghosts around them according to my missus.  Wooooooooo!

Read more about these Lantern Trees HERE and HERE

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Wet Ladies Travel Photo from Okinawa, Japan

It was a beautiful day up in the northern part of Okinawa, Japan Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011, at the Ungami Matsuri.  Here is a scene I took where the Pentax came in handy.  World-famous for water-resistant qualities, the Pentax was my camera of choice over the Canon and Panasonic. 

I wanted to get down close to the action yet, go wide-angle to catch the blue skies, mountains and the three dragon boats racing towards the shore.  There was a good chance I'd get wet, too.

These ladies didn't just get wet from jumping in the ocean to cheer their dragon boat teams.  They did a whole lot of dancing and wetting their whistles before taking a dip in the East China Sea.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo of the Day: The Dragon of Ogimi Okinawa, Japan

Here is one of a few hundred photos taken in the Village of Ogimi over the past 24 hours.  There will be many more colorful pictures to show as quickly as I can get them developed.

There are plenty of stories coming out of this trip and a few mysteries remain unsolved at the festival called Unjami ( Ungami to some) especially concerning women.  Imagine that.

One of the mysteries that popped up today was this girl from Romania.  That's right.  A gal shows up at this remote festival in the middle of nowhere Okinawa, Japan and says she's from Romania.  She's been following this blog for a year and I just found out today.  How's that for a small world ?

Well I got busy shooting dragons, dragonboats, races and women dancing, drinking and beating drums then, jumping in the ocean and cheering on their dragonboat teams.  I was so busy I forgot to ask the girl from Romania if I could print her name on this blog.  So, I won't until she says it's OK.

Right now I'm headed out the door to go recharge my batteries and the camera's batteries, too.


Monday, August 22, 2011

"Naked" Matsuri Got Me Wondering

Tonight, or early tomorrow morning, I'll be headed up to the Unjami Matsuri (Festival) in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan.  Here's a photo from last year's Unjami. 

It was an OFF year, I guess you'd call it.  No big mystery events took place, as far as I know.

But, this year is the ON year.  There is a portion of the festival, men can't witness. 

Women, only, get to go all the way up the mountain for some sort of ritual or ceremony.

Last month was the ON year for the guys up in Ada ( SHINUGU MATSURI ). Only males were allowed to go up in the mountains for their rituals.  None of us got naked. 

Not many guys are really into naked men.  Not in my social circuit, anyway.

Researching for the Unjami Matsuri 2011 I came across something on Google Books that I had never seen before.  MATSURI: THE FESTIVALS OF JAPAN P.148  By Herbert E. Plutschow,  Patrick Geoffrey O'Neill

They say stuff like, "Unjami, festival of Ogimi-mura, Okinawa prefecture and the 'naked' matsuri discussed above".  YIKES !

Now, I realize that the government of Japan outlawed some of the naked stuff that used to go on at festivals of yesteryear in Okinawa, Japan.  Maybe, what goes on in the mountains stays in the mountains. 

So, "Naked" Matsuri got me to wondering. 

I wonder what's going on up in the mountains of Ogimi tomorrow.

So far, I haven't been able to get a lady willing to pack a camera and climb the hills to get the whole story. 

I wonder if the folks up in Ogimi believe in bearded ladies !


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Aug 21, 2011: What Next ? Contest ?

Wow !   Another week goes by and I forgot to shoot a Sunday's Silly Sign for y'all.

No worries.  We'll never run out of silly signs.  Just start making our own.

Today's photo was taken by RyukyuRu in Izumi Okinawa, Japan.

He used a Canon Powershot SX30 IS

That'd be me posing for you.  I probably should have fixed my hair.

It didn't occur to me at the time but, on the blog, it looks like I'm watching that meter.

Not sure what I'll do for the next contest.

Maybe, give away something when the meter hits 750,000 views.  Standby.....



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Photography Tips: Checklist for Overnight at a Festival

Packing up the camera gear for overnight at a festival is not something I do very often but when I do it's serious business.  This photo is a shot taken just before unpacking from my last excursion.

In no particular order here is what I'm preparing to stuff in the trunk of the car for this week's festival shoot:

CAMERAS: All I can muster, clean  lenses, batteries fully charged with SD cards formatted.

CLEANING KIT: Lens solvent, brush, air bulb, lens cloth and lens tissues.


LENSES: Every lens available. The lens you leave behind will be the one you wish you had.

TRIPODS:  Sometimes it's nice to be able to set up and use more than one tripod.  Make sure the quick releases are with you before packing away the tripods.

SHUTTER RELEASE CABLES: A camera's timer is pretty much useless for festival shooting.

SD  CARDS: As many as you can get your hands on.  Again, make sure they are formatted.

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Download cameras so you're ready for day two.

LAPTOP WITH EDITING PROGRAM: This gives you a chance to review photos off camera.

EXTENSION CORD, ELECTRICAL OUTLET ADAPTORS, MULTIPORT SURGE PROTECTOR: Use to power laptop, hard drive and recharge batteries.



A change of clothes, health and comfort items, food and drink, prayer beads, insect repellent, sunscreen and all that jazz is up to you. This is just my photography tips for an overnight festival in Okinawa, Japan, not a packing list for THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.

Photo of the Week: Screw Pine by RyukyuRusty

Rusty shot  this Screw Pine (Pandanaceae) using a Pentax K7, camera flash, 18-250 zoom lens at a focal length of 18mm.  f/11  1/80  ISO 160. Location: Kin Village Okinawa, Japan

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Photo: A Scene from the Mountains of Nago in Okinawa, Japan

This is a location I plan on spending some time at in early morning and late afternoon light.  I went here for the first time, today around noon.  Not exactly the best lighting for landscape photography but, I just enjoyed the view and decided to take this photo.

The reason for going here was to catch a wildlife photo.  The subject missed his appointment.  We'll meet at this location, one of these days.  While I'm patiently waiting, I'll probably get scenic shots of the whole mountain, waterfalls, flowers, butterflies and any other critters that inhabit the area.  Standby for more.....


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five Editor's Picks by the Judges at Better Photo

Osprey in Flight with Fish

Sesoko Island Blue Crab

The Couple on the Castle Wall

The Yanbaru Kuina

Gallirallus okinawae

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Girl's Underwear on the Internet (Photos) What's Next? Facrynoutloud !

What is this world coming to facrynoutloud ?  Sitting here in Okinawa, Japan and trying to read something important on a friend's blog in Scotland about folks from THE BRAVEHEART RECRUITING AGENCY I got bombarded by Japanese girls posing in their underwear.  It happens almost anywhere you go online nowadays. Don't these people have anything better to do ?

I can read a little bit of Japanese.  It says "95% OFF".  Well put your clothes back on girl, I ain't interested.

This Gmarket is somewhere in Korea, the clothes are probably made by folks in China.  I bet if you live in Antarctia, Colombia, Bulgaria, New Zealand or anywhere else in the world, you could by these items. 

They even have underwear for people who can't make up their minds if they are a boy or a girl.  Hah !

Gmarket, don't even think of messing with me.  I gave you your 50 seconds of fame on this blog.
If I wanted to buy a lady some underwear, you know what I'd do ?  I'd go to Fredricks of Hollywood. 

They have a little more class facrynoutloud !